I Feel Like I’m Being Followed – Day 16 – San Juan de Ortega to Burgos

Crop circles made of stone.

That’s all I could think of as I reached the top of the mountain  and looked at the landscape in front of me. There was no doubt in my mind that these were not made by aliens. I’d been walking on these rocks with difficulty, for hours . But I had to wonder who had the time to gather all the rocks and arrange them so meticulously in so many circles. They were large and there were many. There were no houses or villages so high up and so close to the city. Someone had spent their time creating art, and I was grateful. Stone circles here, stone circles there. Many, many meters across, with ripples of stones radiating from the center of each one.

But they did leave me wondering – who had had the time?

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Greg and I met a couple from Germany who were returning from Santiago on bicycle. They were kind and friendly and shared a poem with us (this is the kind of thing that happens on the Camino)). And they gave detailed directions on how to get into Burgos.

It was heading into siesta time. The time of day when the heat forces all of Spain to close shop and wait for the more survivable time of day. We stopped in a bar along the way to Burgos and got a much-anticipated cold beer. In fact, two cold beers. Large.

What would my children say if they saw me gulping beer before noon?

I planned to spend two days in Burgos so I was anxious to arrive. I left the bar and began my walk into town, which meant a long, dusty, hot walk around the airport.

No one else had been nuts enough to take off at that time of day so I had no one on the Camino to follow. I followed the arrows and remembered the advice of the German cyclers.

This was the city, so the pavement was very hot under my feet.  After about 20 minutes, I looked back, as I often do, to see how far I had come.

Imagine my surprise to see that I was being followed by a dozen pilgrims.

I knew they were all following me. Traveling singly, heads down, barely looking ahead, you get into the  habit of simply following the peregrino in front of you and crossing your fingers that he/she knows the way.

Now, they were all following me!

I hadn’t decided whether to take the city bus into the center of the city or to walk all the way. The guide-book says to take the bus, it’s short, cheap, and the walk into Burgos was through the unremarkable industrial part of town.

When I met two young local girls, I asked where the bus stop was, wanting to make sure their information matched what I had in the guidebook. It did not. They gave me other directions, which they claimed were more accurate than the book.

With so many people following me, I felt responsible to make the best decision.

I decided to take the city bus and to follow the girls’ advice. Some of the pilgrims followed me to the girls’ bus stop, some went by the book, and others decided to walk all the way and not take the bus.

I had a nice conversation with a local woman waiting at the bus stop and in ten minutes, the bus arrived to take us into town for a euro.

We passed the pilgrims who had decided to follow the book and were still waiting.

I had made a good decision.

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